A late come back from Rochdale on Tuesday night saw Keith Hill’s side move two points clear at the top of the Sky Bet League Two table with a 3-2 win over Northampton Town at Spotland.
The visitors opened the scoring inside the first minute of the game through a wonderful strike from Luke Norris, before Ian Henderson levelled the match on 25 minutes. Stuart Dallas regained the lead for the Cobblers thirteen minutes later, but in a spirited fashion, Rochdale struck twice in the advance stages of the match through Michel Rose and George Donnelly to seal the victory.
There was one change to the side who started in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Cheltenham Town as Bastien Hery was given the nod in place of Jamie Allen, who dropped to the bench.
The game was just 30 seconds old when the visitors opened the scoring in a stunning fashion through Luke Norris, who struck from 25-yards. Norris’ speculative strike left ‘keeper Josh Lillis rooted to the spot as it nestled perfectly in the top corner of the net.
GOAL: Rochdale 0-1 NORTHAMPTON TOWN (Norris, 1)
The goal could have left Rochdale shell shocked, but it wasn’t the case as Dale employed their effective style of football, leaving the Cobblers with few opportunities in the final third, while applying plenty of pressure on the Northampton defence at the other end.
The warning signs were there for the visitors, and after Lillis had reacted quickly to deny Darren Carter from close range, Ian Henderson levelled the scoring for Dale.
Henderson, who was the two goal hero in Saturday’s win over Cheltenham Town, fired into the bottom corner of the net from an acute angle to make it game on at Spotland.
GOAL: ROCHDALE 1-1 Northampton Town (Henderson, 25)
Rochdale had taken full control of the match, but they were dealt a blow as the visitors regained the lead on 38 minutes against the run of play.
It was anticipated that Stuart Dallas would send a cross in on goal, but instead he fired into the roof of the net from distance.
GOAL: Rochdale 1-2 NORTHAMPTON TOWN (Dallas, 38)
Shortly after the goal Lillis was called into action again as he dealt with a header from goalscorer Norris, who got on the end of a Chris Hackett cross.
And immediately up the other end the woodwork stood between Michael Rose and his second goal of the season as his effort from just inside the area left the cross bar rattling as it went out for a goal kick.
Manager Keith Hill made his first substitution of the match on 43 minutes as Matty Lund, who hobbled down the tunnel, was replaced by Andrew Tutte.
HT: ROCHDALE 1-2 NORTHAMPTON TOWN
There were no further changes at the interval as Hill stayed as was for the second half.
Rochdale came out after the break with all cylinders firing and enjoyed the better of the opportunities in front of goal as they kept the visitors penned into their own half for large spells.
Within a minute of the re-start Tutte had forced goalkeeper Duke to get two two hands behind an effort and send it round the post, while Henderson was given space moments later to fire over the bar from 20 yards.
George Donnelly was introduced onto the field of play on 52 minutes and was immediately involved in the action as he raced in on a fantastic ball across the face of goal from Rose. Donnelly was unable to get the decisive touch to turn it into the net and it skipped past the goal mouth and out of play.
While Rochdale enjoyed plenty of possession and opportunities during the early exchanges of the half, Northampton weathered the storm and they too enjoyed a spell in charge during which they tested the Dale goal.
Norris tried his luck from range as he fizzed a speculative shot over the bar from around 20 yards, before a low ball across the face of goal troubled the Dale defence, but Dallas was unable to make a connection to send it into the back of the net.
In the closing stages of the match there was a late surge from Dale and for the second match in a row they overturned the deficit to seal all three points. Henderson was blocked by Doumbe, Tutte had an effort from distance, which looked headed for the net, deflected wide of the upright, before Rose levelled the scoring on 87 minutes from a set piece.
Dale were awarded a free kick around 20 yards from goal, and Rose made no mistake in sending a low left footed effort round the wall and in at Duke’s right hand post.
GOAL: ROCHDALE 2-2 Northampton Town (Rose, 87)
And for the second game in succession Rochdale netted in stoppage to secure all three points and move top of the Sky Bet League Two table.
Goalkeeper Duke got a hand to the effort from Donnelly but he couldn’t keep a hold of it and it trickled over the line to seal a late win for Keith Hill’s side.
GOAL: ROCHDALE 3-2 Northampton Town (Donnelly 90+3)
It finished Rochdale 3, Northampton Town 2.